<
>

Martin Tourney: No. 6 B-R wins third straight title

1d
Brendan Hall/ESPN

PLYMOUTH, Mass. -- Even when Bridgewater-Raynham staff ace Jack Connolly doesn’t have his best stuff, the senior righthander still looks brilliant.

Despite six walks and control issues that lingered throughout the game, Connolly carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning of the Brad Martin Championship game against No. 14 Plymouth North, leading the sixth-ranked Trojans to a 5-2 victory over the host Blue Eagles.

It wasn’t the typical performance that accompanies a start from Connolly, but the results were the same as nine Eagles were retired via the strikeout. Connolly baffled the North lineup with a steady diet of curveballs while effectively mixing in his slider and two-seam fastball that appeared to gain velocity as the game unfolded.

“He didn’t throw a lot of first-pitch strikes today and his control was a little bit off, but it shows his toughness and his experience,” B-R coach John Kearney said. “He had good stuff today but not the control at times.”

Connolly retired nine consecutive Plymouth North batters entering the sixth inning with a no-hitter still intact, but Eagles leadoff hitter Colin Nicklas had other ideas.

Facing a full count, Nicklas connected with a slider over the plate, ripping it over the left field fence to breakup the no-no and the shutout with one swing of the bat.

“Props to that kid for hitting a 3-2 slider over the fence,” Connolly said. “But it was tough elements with the wind and as the game went on I got stronger and stronger.

“I’m a little angry with my control, starting counts with a ball, getting down and having to fight back, but I’m happy with my performance.”

As the Eagles took deep-at bats against the Notre Dame bound ace, Connolly’s pitch count mounted quickly as he required 127 pitches to get through the contest.

Despite the high demand on his arm, Kearney had no problem sending out the right-hander to finish the game with Alex McGrath warming in the bullpen as a precaution.

“He stuck with it and wanted to finish,” Kearney recalled. “We asked him and he wanted to finish it, you could see it in his eyes that he wanted to go out and finish it himself.”

Production from the bottom: As the top third of the Trojans lineup struggled, the bottom of the order picked up the slack to give Connolly a lead to work with.

Connolly started the offense off with a triple from the five-spot to leadoff the second inning, scoring a wild-pitch on the following at bat, but the production from eight-hitter Kyle Horsman was crucial.

Horsman knocked in the second B-R run in the second inning, scoring Mike Manning on a single and then plated pinch-runner Cam Polson with a single in the fourth inning. Horsman crossed the plate on a wild pitch to round out the B-R scoring.

“He’s a senior who came on last year and played short for us the last third of the season,” Kearney explained. “He’s been one of the most consistent players for us and sticks a base hit along the way and he was big today.”

Slapped with a three-run lead in the second inning, Connolly was lights out, allowing only one base runner over the next four innings.

“The three runs felt like 10 runs at that point,” said Kearney. “It helps everyone relax when he’s out there and with those insurance runs, he was able to survive the blip he had in the sixth.”

Eagles threaten: Right out of the shoot, Plymouth North had a chance to jump on Connolly as Nicklas drew a four-pitch walk to open the game and stole second. However, after a failed bunt attempt, Nicklas was nabbed at third on a fielder’s choice.

“I think we should have scored in the first inning, we didn’t execute a bunt to get a guy to third, but it is what it is,” Plymouth North coach Dwayne Follette said. “When you face a pitcher like that, you need make to make the most of your opportunities.”

Facing a three-run deficit in the seventh, the Eagles refused to go quietly, even as they were down to their final out.

Following back-to-back, two-out walks to Nick Lloyd and Nicklas, the tying-run walked to the plate in the form of Cullin Cosgrove. With Joe Walsh looming on deck, Connolly snagged a groundball up the middle and tagged first himself to end the game.

“No shame, but we are Plymouth North and we don’t like to lose anytime,” Follette said. “Tip your hat to them, he pitched well and kept us off balance.”

Silver Lake strikes back: For the third consecutive game, No. 10 Silver Lake allowed a 3-0 lead to slip through their grasp. But this time, the Lakers battled back to take a 5-4 victory over New Bedford in the Brad Martin consolation game.

Trailing 3-0 entering the fourth inning, the Whalers pushed across four runs in the frame, highlighted by Chandler Debrosse’s infield single that was paired up with a throwing error that resulted in three runs scoring. The Lakers pushed across the tying and go-ahead run in the fifth and seventh inning, respectively, both off the bat of Adam Gay, who finished the game 3-for-3 and was a home run short of the cycle.

“That’s what you want out of a senior leader, he’s been a leader for four years,” Silver Lake coach Ken Tocci said. “He led the league in homeruns as a freshman and his power was on display today.”

The Lakers pitching staff entered the game on fumes, hurling a collective 19 innings over the prior 48 hours, largely in part to the 12-inning marathon against Plymouth North on Tuesday.

Mike Melanson, who was saddled with the loss in Tuesday’s game despite throwing just three pitches was handed the ball and delivered exactly what Tocci needed, a complete game effort.

Melanson scattered eight hits while allowing two earned runs and striking out eight Whalers to earn the win.

“Mike put the team on his back, he pitched the other day and gave up the home run and showed he was mentally tough and gave us everything he had,” Tocci said.